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Archive for February, 2013

Update to "I lied"

February 26th, 2013 at 06:49 am

OK, six days post announcement of merger, not "takeover" as DH presented. It is business as usual and there is no real plan in place and things may drag out for six-nine months (end of year) timeframe. DH is thinking that it may be beneficial for him to ride it out and see about severance. He was willing to leave without it, but it might make his transition to academia easier. If he could get a semester or two full time, he'd be moving along at a quicker pace. So I'm thinking of this as a time to build up funds (still taking spending to minimal levels).

I resigned myself to let go and let God. I'm ultimately not in control of things (I'm speaking of overall the way situations that are beyond my control play out, not to be confused with magical thinking).

I perseverated for a day or two about extraneous expenses. The soccer club in the area that DH has partnered up with in the Fall wanted my son(s) - the oldest won at state, beating out the club players at the council and regional levels. It's expensive, like "all off of your chair laughing at how much this costs" expensive. We hadn't accepted their offer of acceptance, citing the expense. Back on 2/1 the Director said he'd see what sort of scholarship they'd be able to offer. Last Friday they came back at 75% discount (total club fees $400 for all three of them, payable in three payments in March, April, May). And if we needed to delay or defer a payment because uniforms would cost us $120 that was fine too. My parents are picking up the cost of the uniforms - they've paid for my daughters' dance things in the past and like to be equitable. So, we can manage the $400. It worked out. Smile

And we have a weekend away planned, to a resort in Wisconsin, with an indoor waterpark and it is where my daughters have a dance competition. The room and dance competition fees were paid for with the Christmas money from my inlaws. My extraneous income this week has been $114.33 (redeemed from the Chase freedom account) and $119.02 in reimbursed expenses for the Cub Scout Blue & Gold Dinner (which I used from checking account). So I've designated those funds for our weekend away:$50 for gas, $100 for waterpark fees, $50 for dinner at Culvers. I'll use the rest for snacks/breakfast food in room (that we'll bring) and maybe a movie. Going to spend it and have fun. It worked out Smile

I found out my grandma will most likely come from CA for 8th grader's graduation. She was here last year and is still going strong for a 93-year-old. That makes us rethink our trip to CA this summer. Goal was to see Gma, and if she is here, we might explore a closer and less expensive alternative to original travel. It worked out Smile

And my Irish Dancing older daughter is in need of a new dress. The younger daughter's dress will do for this competition/performance, but not overall. My daughter doesn't love it, and I can't say that I blame her. It just isn't quite right. A mother at our school is making the alteration to lengthen it. She happens to make ID dresses and just got beautiful fabric from England that is my girl's favorite color. And she has colored Swavorski crystals to complement it. And if I sell daughter's old dress (which is a Sciope Rince out of Ireland that holds it value), I might even be able to replace it with a new one and have money left over. Smile

So, the money is really taking care of itself.

I lied.

February 20th, 2013 at 09:40 am

Yesterday I said I was too busy to worry about the situation at DH's place of employment. There had been talk of a merger. Today the reality is his company is being purchased by the major competitor.
Now I am getting a bit squirrely.

Nothing will happen for the next 3 months (most likely). He was planning on leaving end of summer for other areas unchartered.

Now the recap to make myself feel better:

1) One month ahead on mortgage and braces.
2) Remaining balance on parochial school tuition $350.
3) Tax refunds went to prepay real estate taxes: $6K (another $4K due by end of October)
4) $20K in EF
5) I do have things I was thinking about selling: expensive odd piece of oriental furniture that I've never liked, some jewelry, some upscale things to take to the consignment store.
6) DH has decided to give up his personal trainer/work out facility fee at work (saving $85 per month) Will definitely want to keep the Y, don't think we'll be getting a pool membership this summer
7) Work study plans for girls underway
8) Better self control with shopping and menu planning
9) Better planning for spending on things that we need

Wondering the cost of COBRA and insurance. That will my to-do tomorrow. Maybe best case scenario they will give him a nice severance, which he was willing to forego to pursue other avenues. That would be a benefit. I also figure that maybe between rental property income and unemployment, he might be able to get a few quarters of school full-time. That would require some real measures that I should look into. And if I were able to get a part-time job, it might be do-able.

Oh, the joys of the unknown waters. So I'm minimally flustered. Reality check: not totally immune from old ways.

Too busy to worry (HA)

February 19th, 2013 at 06:09 am


Life is a busy whirlwind of activities, and doesn't really have a lull for quite a while.

There was a brief time last week where I considered applying for a job that I thought would be ideal for me. Ideal for a different version of me. It is at a place that I really like (the office of our Diocese), but alas, I'd never work 30 hours a week in the summer when my kids are home. Ever. Unless I needed to, and we're really not at that point.

Anyhow, during that brief time, I was quite productive in making progress in the areas of the volunteer work that I do. I'm learning to deal better with difficult people. (And I'm realizing that they are all around). I've decided that while I'm in the middle of several uncomfortable situations, it must say something about my ability to be diplomatic. Making definite progress in the not complaining about others to others department. So, all it well.

To the worry part: DH is employed by a large office supply company that is merging with another large office supply company. Of course, you never know where the chips will fall, and he already has an exit plan in place (to pursue another career direction). That plan has us scaled back pretty much in the spending department (though we do have a list of things we are accomplishing with the extraneous funds while we have them).

The old me (had we not had a plan) would have been blathering about this and that and "woe is me".

Reaping the rewards of Positive Parenting

February 14th, 2013 at 08:53 am

We've been conscious in raising our children of sharing and giving back and being part of a community bigger than ourselves. We've worked with Special Olympics and I (co)run the summer youth programs at our parish. My girls are natural born helpers who actively get triple the required number of service hours required for sacraments; they like to help with their brothers' Scouting Dens, etc. The older one received a scholarship for her first year of high school that we hope will be renewable. The younger one just finished the application for a scholarship that her sister is on the wait list for. I am fairly confident in her ability to be an actual recipient in that she is a bit stronger in her faith life and academics.

Anyhow, we were at Welcome Night for the younger one who will be a freshman at my alma mater and the school her sister is a freshman at. The sticker shock of a cost of one year rattled her chain a bit; I don't think she realized that is costs $9,600 for one year (for her sister with scholarships and grants we paid $5,000). The principal discussed the work study option available in the summer to defray tuition costs.

Both of my daughters thought this would be a good idea. And they hope to earn $500 toward their tuition (each). Smile They heard DH and I talking about him possibly switching to a position within our Diocese that would pay somewhat less, but would also bring the tuition for each daughter down an additional $1,000. This might be also conducive to his return to school for the diaconate. To work and attend classes at the same place is a good thing.

I'm also thinking about talking to the school to see about any teachers' aide positions that might be available.

Anyhow, I was proud. And I am no longer a Nervous Nellie about change. I've concluded that change is good. Sometimes uncomfortable, but mostly good.

Paradigm shift in perspective

February 12th, 2013 at 06:32 am

I've come to a realization about myself. And that is: when I am nervous about something, I micromanage, perseverate, and generally immerse myself in whatever situation, so I can monitor and be ready for some indication that the situation is going to go awry. As if I'm heading for a cliff of some sort, if I pay careful attention, I'll be able to stop the calamity from happening.

In the past I've spent a lot of time worrying about things. Coming from a dysfunctional money background growing up (living with a poor mother, abandoned financially by a father who came from a family with money), left me out of synch - thinking that money magically solves things. And then, when we did have little bits of money, I'd hoard it away "in case".

Most recently I analyzed my relationship with older daughter who is now a freshman. Starting high school for me was a very scary thing, having to start at a new school with no friends (I started in public for elementary/junior high, and ended in parochial for high school). My daughter was also starting at the same school knowing few people. I confess to being a helicopter parent; I was able to check her grades on line and hounded her about an F because she forgot her Bible in Theology on the day they did a supplies check. No wonder she was a bit tired of me. I also hounded her about staying in contact with her best friend who went to a different parochial high school. Ugh, I look back and think "what was I thinking?" The consequence of this was I closed the door on open communication with my daughter who I'm usually really close with.

I realized my behavior at the end of 1st quarter. I haven't looked at her grades at all once, not even one sneaky peak. I let her tell me what her grades are, and guess what? She's done remarkably well without my hounding. She and her best friend have renewed contact and talk once a week now and get together twice a month. She has new friends and we talk about situations with boys and etc.

I'm no longer hovering, and the results are good. My girl is able to think and act for herself, and I'm there when she needs me.

It is the same with money. I'm not checking the balance in the checking account every day. I do keep aware of how much remains in budget categories. I also have a budget cushion that allows me to spend more freely. The money is taking care of itself.

We haven't missed the funds from increasing the 401K to 11%. Once I get the income tax refunds, I'll be paying the $7K (estimated) property taxes on the primary residence and that will be off the plate for the year. I'm planning a few months out now for events like First Holy Communion, Confirmation, and Graduation.

What started this whole analysis of the shift in my thinking? We were shopping at Payless yesterday for shoes. Oldest son's school shoes didn't survive and the sole was almost completely off. Younger daughter needed shoes for her Valentine's Day Dance on Thursday. She found a perfect pair of pink pattened leather pumps with a black bow (cost $30) and she said, "I love these shoes. I'll wear them for the dance, Easter, AND Graduation. I know I should be practical, but I LOVE them." Of course I bought them for her. Everyone deserves a pair of shoes they absolutely love. Old me would have bought them with some sort of little lecture about how they aren't exactly practical, but I would. I'd be conveying some sense of displeasure or disapproval.

Yesterday I smiled and said, "Of course you can get them! I'd buy them for myself if they matched something. They are great. And let's get you a pair of flats for the May Crowning. Its a buy one, get half off sale!"

Total spent for three pairs of shoes: $45.

Lesson to mother: Priceless.

Spending Plan in Action

February 8th, 2013 at 07:05 am


According to my spending plan, today is the day we fill up the gas tanks (well put about 3/4 tank in based on the current high prices - $3.87 BAH) and I do my grocery shopping. Last week's trip was bigger than I usually do, so there is no imminent need for anything other than milk and bread Smile

So I'll run out and pick a few items up. All the bills for 2/1-2/14 are paid. I have enough cash on hand for a few miscellaneous purchases, two-sided body tape for younger daughter for her dress for the Father-Daughter Dance. Some Belfast linen for a stitching project that I'm doing for my 2nd grade son.

Also working on the budget for Cub Scouts. I'm taking the whole element of drama out of the process; this is indeed a challenge for me (who is probably more emotional than cerebral).

All is quiet on the money front.

Me and my Mr. Coffee, plus money musings

February 6th, 2013 at 06:19 am

I'm drinking my Mr. Coffee coffeemaker coffee this morning, enjoying the fact that I didn't spend needlessly, Funny how sometimes I can meander off the money path that I am quite content with. DH thought it was funny that I was being so weird about buying a coffeemaker, and suggested that if I wanted to perk up my morning coffee experience I should try the new International Delight natural coffee cream (there was a commercial on for it). Maybe I will. And I think I need a new coffee cup.

Funny how the little things can make a world of difference. Sort of like having tea with my one friend; she's clearly a tea-junkie, and when I go there I feel like I'm treated to some great culinary feast: my choice of "treat tea" (as she calls it, and my choices are like rose and champagne or lavender and honey), and then its real tea, in a little strainer thing, and I'm served it in a delicate china cup with hand-painted roses, and there is a whole other little plate for my spoon, and little tea cookies, you get the idea ... a whole different experience than plunkering a tea bag in a stained cup (which is what I do at home).

My outing yesterday ($54 for replacement coffeemaker, 6 pairs of socks, one NFL-logoed mug as a gift) yielded me $10 off of a future Kohl's purchase. I also received a catalog in the mail from JCP and almost recycled it without seeing the free $10 off of $10 purchase. Glad I found that, free money is free money. I also submitted $8 in receipts for supplies for a project I did for the high school and my $50 refund from the Y should be here soon. So money is coming in ... and going out.

I've got the budget on auto-pilot and I've decided to stay in money lock-down through the month; I'll be able to continue my pace of staying one to one-and-a-half months ahead on due dates (2/18 will be making the March braces and tuition payment, both payable on the 15th). I'll also make March's mortgage payment plus $433 additional principle.

March gets spendy when I am moving ahead on the carpeting for the bedrooms. I've decided to take my present cash surplus ($1,500) and the tax refunds ($5,500) and pay the real estate property taxes on the primary residence all at once. Then my extra money of $1,450 a month will be applied to short-term goals and upcoming 2013/2014 tuition. This will start in April. March's money will be carpeting, new dresser for girls, paint for upstairs, and some other miscellaneous home repairs/maintenance we've been putting off.

Keurig taunted me all day ...

February 5th, 2013 at 03:18 pm

Kohl's has the spend $50 get $10 off a future purchase sale going on. I went there first to replace the coffeemaker that died yesterday. I was conflicted; why? I do not know. I want one of those new machines... I asked for Christmas, but didn't get one. I've used one only once in the oral surgeon's office while DD was having her teeth pulled.

I then went to Walmart. I was unimpressed with their basic offerings, black and dull. I didn't buy. I tried to justify spending the $100 (but it would have yielded me $20 for another purchase) on the dinky little colorful Keurig that is usually $129. I came close to biting the bullet, even going so far as to select a color I liked and put it in the wheely-rolly thing.

But, alas, common sense prevailed. I ended up with a 12-cup Mr. Coffee upgrade from what I previously owned and died. It was $35 down from $50. I actually bought socks for the boys and Green Bay Packer Mug on clearance as a gift for FIL. Total spent was $54 and have $10 for a future purchase.

I won.

Redeeming points and replacing the coffee pot

February 5th, 2013 at 06:17 am

The American Express that we opened last year in order to take advantage of a bonus is going to have the annual fee added next billing cycle, so we'll be closing that account. Yesterday we had enough points to redeem a $25 gift card to Victoria's Secret (my girls love PINK), $20 to Old Navy (place that I buy the school uniforms) and $10 to Bath & Body Works (a fun place to pick up things for Easter baskets or stockings at Christmas).

My coffee pot died yesterday morning. It wasn't anything special and was from my MIL a few years back. We had a coupon for a free coffee from 7-11, so DH bought it last night and we split it this morning. I can't live without coffee, nor can DH. I imagine that I'll head over to Kohls today to see about replacing it. I must be practical. I'd like the new fancy-fanagled ones, Keurig?, but alas, I'd probably be too practical to buy the coffee for it.

Hello Monday, Hello Health!

February 4th, 2013 at 06:30 am


This is the first day in many weeks that those kids that had school all got up and ready without any aches and complaints. I didn't have to take temperatures, medicate, or anything of the sort. Just make lunches and say good-bye! The high-schooler has an Institute Day and is sleeping in, so I don't need to drive anyone to school. Yay for PJs and coffee on a cold, snowy morning.

Spending recap for Sat/Sun:

$41.10 Auto Zone (new windshield wiper blades/headlight)
$9.86 Ace Hardware (rental property repair)
$24.00 Red Lobster (DH and I had a date, that was after coupon and gift card applied - $15.05 food, $7.95 tip)
$8.08 CVS (Benedryl and Sunday paper)
$2.30 Dominick's for groceries after $16.50 in coupons.

Cupboards and gas tanks are full, so no spending this week.

A friend altered younger daughter's dress for free. I'll pick up a Starbuck's gift card for her. Saturday is Father-Daughter Dance and I told daughter I'd give $10 towards her manicure. 8th Grade Drama is getting very old. At least there are lots of positives outside of school to concentrate on for her: Science Fair, Confirmation, Graduation.

Life is good. Off to catch up on the blogs.

Stepping Down to Where I Originally Wanted to Be

February 1st, 2013 at 07:05 am


Thanks for those who commented on my last post. I'm clearly a person who doesn't like confrontations, and I really just want to be understood for who I am vs. who people think I should be. But I suppose we all really struggle with that.

I'm realizing that after helping behind the scenes a long time and with times a-changing and people a-moving on, I'm becoming more visible. I don't think I'm very comfortable with that. This is the situation I find myself in with Scouts. I have reasonably good relationships with the CM, Committee Chair and Treasurer who are all out come end of Feb. I'm also reasonably friendly with the new CM (who is abrasive and sometimes his logic is down right fuzzy!) so I find myself in the middle.

My emails are now cc: to everyone. I'm not taking personal emails Smile I stated that we should follow the past protocols for our budget (including covering the thank you gifts for the leaders leaving) and that we should finish out the 2012-2013 budget based on the projections. I also said that we'd be within budget for our banquet, and we'll just have to rework the menu to stay within the funds. I inventoried what we have from last year and we won't have to buy any paper products, so that will save money.

Funny, how once I get my own household in order financially, I'm dealing with the budget for Scouts!

Anyhow, I'm simply going to deal with Treasury issues. No more arm chair psychologist to my "friend". I don't need to discuss political issues (or religious issues, for that fact) or listen to commentary on the present (outgoing) management.

This will be a sheer exercise in diplomacy. I don't need to confront. Yet? Maybe I'm being na´ve on my ability to step back.

Thanks for listening.